“dreamworld sounds like heaven. It’s the feeling of tears welling in your eyes as you think before you fall asleep.”
On the first single from that upcoming project, Quisol opens up about love and longing on “in the flesh.” The track is a rock-tinged ballad that dives through lovely scenes to the sound of serene strings and harmonies. With this release, Quisol escapes through the clouds and is awake in dreamworld.
This singer-songwriter chatted with YR Media’s Emiliano Villa about the personal impact of finding community and the creative process of his upcoming project, paying homage to his roots and pop inspirations.
“So like most humans, I’ve had a migratory life,” started Quisol. Born in California, raised in Florida and the Carolinas with a few pit stops along the way, these travels serve as the influences and recurring themes of his work. “in the flesh” is a snapshot in time from when the artist was pursuing his master’s at Harvard and caught up in rushing motions of love.
Entirely arranged, produced and performed on guitars, drums, and vocals by Quisol with additional vocals by Olivia Cohen and mixing and mastering from Lucia Martinez, “in the flesh” is an ethereal escape from the daily and into a fantasy world where you can hit the replay button on your favorite memories.
Emiliano Villa: What were some of the inspirations for this project? Did it come about from the pandemic era?
Quisol: The world was kinda forcing me to be mindful, so I feel like this album is a close out of that chapter when I definitely had some growth emotionally. A lot of the feelings on this project are what I experienced during the pandemic, like longing for love and feeling distanced from people. But I was also able to slow down a lot and really get back into my body.
I wrote it in Oakland and then I recorded a demo. This is around the time that "forever" and "how i'm feeling now" with Charli XCX came out. I remember driving around Oakland in my Volkswagen, lil’ hatchback, delivering groceries at that point. It was a struggle, but it was a lesson and I feel like I've definitely come up since then.
EV: You’ve opened up about moving around and it’s reflected on “in the flesh,” too.
Q: Yeah! After leaving North Carolina, I got pulled over by police with my friend Walker — a longtime bandmate and my next door neighbor. “I've been running through these cities / I pray that cops don't get me.” That was when I was moving to Cambridge for graduate school, so this is where the song starts.
EV: And the song sounds like a story in parts to me, is that true?
Q:The song is a reflection on… what just happened? Can we remember? Can we take us back? What life have we been living that led us to this moment? I build that in the intro and the middle. When you get to the end, there's a third part. That's where I really tell the story. I literally left and moved to Cambridge, met my partner at that time and I started a new relationship. We're in my Harvard dorm room sharing a twin size bed, long distance.
EV: Super cute scene.
Q: Yeah, this one's for the lovers out there. "We wake up in a hurry,” because you can't stay in my dorm room. Like you have your own life in another city, and I'm doing my thing here. But like all these visits, I feel like that's always a really exciting part of a relationship. I guess I wanted to remember how beautiful that part was.
EV: What soundscapes can we expect from “dreamworld”?
Q: There's gonna be some escalation of energies and build up. But there's a song, it kinda goes through an arc. It's like electronic production, pop sounds, hyperpop, some house fusion. A lot of ethereal, pitched vocals.
EV: And you’re quite the multi-instrumentalist! I’ve seen you on your harp. Tell me about that.
Q: I've always really been really inspired by multi-instrumentalists like Jacob Collier, French Kiwi Juice and my friend across the street Walker who I got pulled over with. It just comes easy to me, like one instrument acts how you play another. I feel like learning harp made it easier to get on a piano, but learning guitar made it easier to approach the harp.
EV: Wow, that’s great. I love that you're able to adapt them to your own sound and influences, like I would love to hear a hyperpop influence there, a rubber-sounding harp or something.
Q: Rubber sounding harp! Writing that down. I don't usually put my music in a genre, but it’s also kinda lonely out here in the genreless world making music that I'm like, “What are people gonna think of this? What makes sense?” But I feel I'm an artist in different genres.
EV: It's a whole world.
Q: It's a whole dreamworld.